Hoover says 'some cuts' necessary as long as education is preserved and responds to Williams

03/17/2011 06:52 PM

By Monday, House Republicans and Democrats could come to a compromise on balancing the Medicaid budget using some cuts to government but not to education, said House GOP Floor Leader Jeff Hoover.

“As long as education is exempt, at least that discussion about cuts is on the table,” he said. “Obviously, it’s something we have to look at.”

He made the comments on Thursday’s edition of Pure Politics. And in response to a follow-up question, Hoover said House Republicans believe trimming other government agency budgets will be necessary.

“We think there is going to have to be some cuts,” he said.

Hoover also responded to Senate President David Williams, who clearly was unhappy with Hoover’s statement about opposing cuts to education. Williams said on last Thursday’s edition of Pure Politics that Hoover might not “understand” the issue and that the difference between Senate and House Republicans is that the Senate GOP members “matter.”

One possibility, Hoover said, is that lawmakers could install a “trigger” for cuts, in which those reductions to agency budgets would kick in only if the administration fails to save enough money from Medicaid through efficiencies and new managed care contracts.

“All of us are committed right now that education is off the table,” Hoover said. “But … we recognize that unfortunately, come January, we may have to look at cutting education as we move forward in the next biennium budget.”

On Williams, Hoover said he admired the Senate president’s political skills and intellect. But he said House Republicans were upset at Williams’ comments on Pure Politics.

“We have expressed our frustration in being taken for granted,” Hoover said.

And as a result, many House members have heard from GOP Senators who are reaching out, he added.

Hoover also explained how he came to release a statement two weeks ago, in which he announced that he and the Republican caucus disagreed with the Senate’s approach of cutting education in 2012 as part of the plan to balance the Medicaid budget.

And he weighed in on how this debate in Medicaid is affecting the governor’s race, in which Williams is a candidate.

Hoover said he hasn’t spoken to Williams about the next move in the Medicaid budget negotiations and wouldn’t say whether he thought Williams might back off of the call for across the board cuts that include trimming education in 2012.

“Senator Williams, as I alluded to earlier, is a very brilliant political strategist. I’m sure he knows where he wants to end in this thing,” he said. “My sole purpose right now is to rise above the politics that’s been injected into this situation. My purpose is to try to find an agreement, a solution, a compromise that House Republicans can support.”

- Ryan Alessi


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